Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sidecar Scrapbook book review

OK, first of all a disclosure: I've been friends with the author, Matt Little, for years. I just run this site for fun and am not looking in to passing on negativity in any way, if I don't like something very much I won't feature it. So, take it for granted that any review of a book or product I make is essentially an endorsement for something that's come my way (usually paid for, occasionally given - in this case given so thanks very much Matt!). Yes then, no qualms at all about recommending Matt's book...

The Sidecar Scrapbook's strapline is 'all about building, fixing and riding sidecar outfits' and as such it is a guide to attaching, setting up, riding and maintaining a sidecar rig. The format is softback A4 and is 64 pages long. Information within should be of use to both beginners and experienced sidecarists alike. I've set up three outfits myself, the first was terrible, the second a fair bit better eventually after much tweaking and the third was finally pretty good. Having this book on hand would certainly have made the job a lot easier from the start.

If you've got an interest in sidecars the Sidecar Scrapbook fits a niche not covered elsewhere and should be a welcome addition to your library. If you are a novice to the world of sidecaring consider this book essential reading.

Contact Matt directly by email if you would like a copy: The price is £9.95

Monday, May 20, 2019

Giants Run 2019 pt1

Yesterday was the Dorset Section VMCC's Giants Run, an event for girder forked machines. Sadly I was just back from work and slightly jet-lagged so didn't ride but at least did make it along to have a cuppa at the start and watch off the intrepid riders. The rain held off and an excellent turnout of more than 70 pre-war and vintage machines turned up. Two different routes are offered, a short and a long of around 70 miles.

The was the first Giants Run and it looks set to establish itself as one of the larger gatherings of pre-war bikes, certainly in the local area, if not the country. Here's to hoping I can get it together to be riding next year.

Have a look at the Dorset VMCC's site. If you like what you see below there'll certainly be more pictures up on the club's site soon.

Enjoy the pictures, no captions, it's all pretty self explanatory. A few more to come soon.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Early Post War Speedway

My knowledge about the world of speedway is quite minimal. It's a motorcycling discipline outside the mainstream and attracts its own dedicated band of enthusiasts, in many cases as uninterested in the wider world of motorcycling as many in that world are of speedway. At one time speedway was a hugely popular spectator sport and of course still has its adherents though the number of teams nationwide is a fraction of what they once were. Take a look at the National Speedway Museum's site to learn more.

These photos I came across recently. They are possibly all of one rider, George Watts who rode for Wolverhampton and Portsmouth in his career.

This great picture is annotated on the reverse as below but
I struggle to read the writing...
'George at R... Avenue  or is it House? 1947
Could it be Rye House? Rye House was a track in Hertfordshire.

George Watts

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book Review - Wall of Death Carnival Motordromes

Wall of Death Motordromes is a US publication and is 127 pages of reproduced images on the subject. The book is available in the UK at a slightly expensive import price from Amazon and I am sure several other more worthy booksellers.

Carnival Motordromes is in a series of publications called 'Images of America' from Arcadia Publishing and it does what it says; there is not a great deal of text, just a collection of evocative images of Walls of Death, not just in the States but worldwide.

An interesting book to have if you are interested in the subject, there are a few images you may have seen before but a lot of them were fresh to me. The text is brief and leaves you wanting to find out more about the characters involved, it's a rich subject. One word of warning if buying on line there is a short postcard album of the same title that is easy to get confused with the full book.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Harley FX 1200

A rare and exotic bike in the UK at the time, a Harley FX 1200 from, I believe, 1976. This was deep in the period when AMF owned Harley Davidson and, as is generally acknowledged, produced some motorcycles of legendarily awful build quality.

That Harley survived this period whilst Triumph and Norton failed in Britain whilst producing similarly outdated but slightly better made machines is probably thanks to American protectionist economic policies more than anything else...

My interest in Harleys tends to wane somewhere soon after the early sixties. Milwaukee produce thereafter for me is generally a nice engine that could do with some better cycle parts. But that's all a matter of taste and of course millions of folk the world over love em. However, crappily built or not, the FX is really not a bad looking bike and still a rare beast these days on this side of the Atlantic.

1976 Harley FX1200 in the UK (that's an old Transit van
in the background!)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Gold Star ZB32 fettling

My first bike was a little D1 BSA Bantam that ingrained an affection for plunger framed Beesas. In my mind they are the best of British bikes, from a time when they were at the peak of their game. Solid, well engineered, characterful and well made machines. And, for me, the plunger framed ZB Gold Stars represent the pick of the bunch.

Finally out on the road after a long, long hiberation.

Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on this ZB32. It came to me 90% restored and had been standing idle for a good while. As is the way of these things it has taken a little while longer to get the old girl back on the road than I had hoped for but she is nearly there. Despite much of the work having been already done, as with any bike that has been standing for a while, there were plenty of jobs, the petrol tank was a little leaky and the mag needed rebuilding. I've fitted a Bri-Tie ball valve on the oil line to stop wet sumping: some are against ball valves on the worry that they might starve your motor of oil but I've always found them reliable as long as you buy good quality and they certainly beat having a constant pool of oil on the garage floor, poor starting and smokey warm ups.

Less loved than the later big fin motor Gold Stars it was
actually the early ZBs that sealed the model's reputation
and had the most competition success in their time.

The engine ran sweetly from the off once the mag was sorted. There was a strange whirring noise that was rather disconcerting that took a while to track down. At first I thought it was the mag meshing too tightly on the timing gears but finally after some experimentation realised that it came from the dynamo. Stripping down the dynamo and putting it back together solved this, on dismantling a small piece of carbon bush dropped out so that must have been catching somewhere.

I've still got the forks to sort. They were binding to start with, a new set of stanchions helped but there is still a problem. I've a suspicion that somehow the wrong springs are fitted, or that they have worn out and shortened.

A single saddle will be fitted soon, as that's a look I prefer. Electrics are still to sort out and to get those forks working properly. After that a few gentle test rides before hopefully some serious useage over the summer season.

The ZB32 motor.

A handsome bike from any angle..